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A photo of Australian-based Autism support specialist, Kristy Forbes.

What happens when you say "No."

autism boundaries neurodivergent Oct 07, 2021
Do you know that you can say No?
So many of us don’t.
We’ve been conditioned to understand that No means others will talk behind our backs about our selfishness or coldness.
We know it will often mean others will say things about us and think things about us that aren’t true.
That hurts.
It means we might lose.
We’ll lose people, lose the mask and lose the facade.
Sometimes we’ll have to say No to people we love.
For around a decade, I was accustomed to people coming to stay in our home when they needed a lift somewhere, or a chaperone for the night, when they had to get to appointments.
There’d be absolutely no acknowledgement of disability; of our children being autistic or of us being a very busy and high needs household.
As a full-time carer, I’d be asked by guests to make coffees, cook meals and find their favourite television program for them or order them takeaway.
I used to quietly seethe inside.
I used to hold them responsible for my fear of saying No.
But when after every single visit I’d meltdown due to the physical and emotional overwhelm whilst also trying to co-regulate with my children, the time came.
“No, I just can’t do that anymore” I managed to say.
To begin with, my fear of saying no meant I’d tell fibs.
“Ohh we won’t be home that weekend”, etc.
I needed practise and I needed to assess the threat of angry responses.
People dropped off our radar.
And as expected, we didn’t really hear from them anymore because we weren’t of any use to them.
Many of us won’t have family, friends and supports close by that ask how we’re doing or offer help.
And it’s hard, but we manage.
We find our way.
This morning I’ve been overwhelmed.
It’s been a busy week and I mostly solo parent on weekends which involves a lot.
But I’d rather do this alone than feel indebted to give what I don’t have.
Those people who were afraid to say No to are the very people that need a good solid “No.”
And those that stick around anyway, are gold.
When I started speaking my truth and unmasking, I lost a lot.
I even lost close family.
But I trust that this is as it is with good reason.
And, I continue to say no, to reserve my YES for the gold and for me.
- KF

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